Editor's note: This story has been updated to correct a reporting error regarding Wayne Price's clan affiliation. Price is a member of the Shark House in Kake.
In introducing the winners of Sealaska Heritage Institute’s seventh biennial Juried Art Show and Competition Wednesday evening, juror and Tsimshian artist David R. Boxley took a few moments to express his great passion for Northwest Coast art.
“The true beauty of Northwest Coast art is its great complexity, which is often mistaken for elegant simplicity,” he said. “It isn’t simple. The two-dimensional, sculptural and woven work of our ancestors is as sophisticated as any great art form in the history of the world.”
Boxley, from Metlakatla, said his appreciation for formline was instilled by his father, Tsimshian carver David A. Boxley, and fostered by another mentor, Haida carver Robert Davidson -- both of whom are renowned Northwest Coast artists. It continues to grow stronger as he carves and studies texts such as “The Transforming Image” by Bill McLennan.
“Formline is a perfect visual representation and an analogy for our culture,” Boxley said. “The black and red, the balance between sizes, the flow of thin to thick to thin, the positive and negative space — the entire system is about balance. It’s beautiful.”
Formline Art is one of the categories Boxley was asked to judge in this year’s art show in his role as sole juror — a role he said was so difficult that he’ll never do it again.
He awarded all three prizes in the Formline Art category to Tlingit master carver Wayne Price for his “Quantum Raven” red cedar paddle, “Mother Whale” paddle and “Dancing Raven Hat.” Price also won Best of Show for “Dancing Raven Hat” and second place in the Northwest Coast Customary Art category for his “Quantum Raven,” totaling five awards in all.
Tlingit artist Pauline Duncan, of Sitka, took first place in the Northwest Coast Customary Art category for her “Ravenstail Set,” and Tlingit artist Teri Rofkar, also of Sitka, won first place in the Northwest Coast Customary-Inspired Art category for “Caprini Tribal Regalia.”
Also taking home awards were Tlingit and Haida artist Deborah Head-Aanutein, of Craig; Tlingit and Haida artist Della Cheney, of Juneau and Kake; and Tlingit artist Lily Hope, of Juneau. Head-Aanutein’s “Echoing Traditions” basket is made of yellow cedar; Cheney’s “Leadership and Change” weaving is a red and white Ravenstail robe made of merino wool; and Hope’s “Little Watchman” is a Chilkat wool coat made for a child.
Eight other artists were chosen to exhibit their work in the show. Those artists are: William Bolton, Hans Chester, Mike Dangeli, Robert Hoffmann, Debra O’Gara, Andrew Tripp, Jennie Wheeler and Joe Young.
Price, who was held up in Douglas and not present for the awards ceremony, is a member of the Shark House in Kake. He began carving in 1971 at Alaska Indian Arts in Haines, and apprenticed with artists including Leo Jacobs, Ed Kasko and John Hagen. Several examples of his work are prominently displayed in Juneau, including his 25-foot totem pole, “Our Grandchildren’s House” installed in 2008 in the Thunder Mountain High School Commons and two 10-foot-tall house posts completed in 2013 at the U.S. Forest Service’s Science Lab Center.
Duncan, a weaver, is also known for her basketry and beaded jewelry. She is of the Eagle-Bear clan and Valley House of Angoon. In addition to being an artist, she is a former a first grade Native teacher at Baranof Elementary School, where she taught Tlingit language and culture for more than 25 years. Her “Ravenstail Set” was made of wool, sea otter fur and hooves.
Rofkar, recipient of the Rasmuson Foundation’s Distinguished Artist Award for 2013, is widely known for her basketry and textile weavings. She is Tlingit of the Raven Clan from the Snail House. Her “Caprini Tribal Regalia” was made entirely of mountain goat wool and was embellished with beadwork.
The winners were announced during an opening reception for the exhibit at the Juneau Arts & Humanities Council Gallery at 4 p.m. Wednesday, prior to the Grand Entrance procession for Celebration 2014.
The names of the artists were not included with the objects during the judging process.
Here is the full list of winners:
Best of Show
• Wayne Price, “Dancing Raven Hat”
Northwest Coast Customary Art
• First place: Pauline Duncan, “Ravenstail Set”
• Second place: Wayne Price, “Quantum Raven”
• Third place: Deborah Head-Aanutein, “Echoing Traditions”
Northwest Coast Customary-Inspired Art
• First place: Teri Rofkar, “Caprini Tribal Regalia”
• Second place: Della Cheney, “Leadership and Change”
• Third place: Lily Hope, “Little Watchman”
• First place: Wayne Price, “Quantum Raven”
• Second place: Wayne Price, “Mother Whale”
• Third place: Wayne Price, “Dancing Raven Hat”
A total of 21 pieces are featured in the exhibit, which is on view at the JACC through the end of the month. Art forms include textile weaving, basketry, wood carving, and silver carving. Some of the artwork is available for purchase.
SHI founded the art competition in 2002 as part of Celebration to promote the development of Southeast Alaska Native arts.
Celebration continues with dance performances and other events through Saturday.
For more, visit http://www.sealaskaheritage.org/celebration/celebration_2014.htm.